The Iberian cyprinid fauna, characterized by the presence of numerous endemic species, has suffered from significant habitat degradation. The critically endangered Squalius aradensis is restricted to small drainages of southern Portugal, habitats that typically exhibit a characteristic Mediterranean-type heterogeneous hydrological system throughout the year, including alternation of flooding events during winter and complete drought in large river sections during summer. To assess the effect of historical and recent processes on genetic diversity in S. aradensis we examined within- and among-population variability in cytochrome b and six polymorphic microsatellite loci. Estimates of genetic diversity in time and space through the combined use of traditional Φ-/F-statistics, phylogenetic trees, ordination methods and nested clade analysis indicated significant and congruent structuring among populations. Data suggest that the Arade drainage represent the evolutionary centre of the species, with subsequent allopatric fragmentation across drainages. Factors other than isolation by distance strongly affected the within-drainage genetic differentiation observed in these Mediterranean-type drainages, including recent population expansion from a bottleneck event and restricted gene flow imposed by a long-term barrier (brackish water area). Significant correlation was found between S. aradensis allelic diversity and upstream drainage area. The relevance of findings for conservation issues is discussed in relation to local intermittent hydrological conditions, the highly restricted distribution and the critically endangered status of the species.
- Endangered endemic Cyprinidae
- Gene flow
- Mitochondrial DNA
- Squalius aradensis